My Living Room Is A Mess But I Can’t Afford New Upholstery

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Dear Laurel,

Loved the post about the throw pillows. I went in my living room and imagined how that might help spruce things up.

I stood, there in the middle… staring at the upholstery. 25 years of grape juice stains, grease spots; not to mention some serious fading.

I don’t think that throw pillows are going to help. lol

Hubs and I chatted and since the vermin, I mean kids are now grown and pretty much out of the house, we decided to reclaim our living room with some spiffy new upholstery pieces.

So, we went shopping at the only furniture store in town. (there used to be three) I thought I was tripping when I saw the quote for one sofa, four chairs, an ottoman and nine throw pillows.

Are you ready? With S/H and tax it was $19,333.74

Okay, fine. We just don’t have that kind of money. After putting four kids through college, our funds have limits

Then, I had the idea to have our old furniture reupholstered. I went to a place that I’ve heard good things about. I brought in photos of our furniture.

And once again, I’ve proven that one doesn’t need drugs to have a psychedelic experience. This time the quote was  about half of the new furniture, but that didn’t include pillows, plus S/H and sale’s tax. Oh, and the guy said that if the furniture needed new springs that would add several hundred more dollars.

So, we’re still talking about 14k! I didn’t realize that getting my furniture reupholstered isn’t that much less than brand new furniture.

Thanks to your article about throw pillows, I found some great sources to make some wonderful pillows for less than the upholsterer can do.

We’ve decided though that for the rest, we can’t afford to spend more than about $5,000.

I guess it’s Craig’s List and consignment shops for us.

It’s a shame too, because the furniture aside from the messed up upholstery is really quite good.

Sofia Stainer

 

That’s a made-up Dear Laurel letter, but I’ve had some requests to do a post about

 

SLIPCOVERS

 

Unfortunately, like a lot of things, the word has taken on some not-so-nice connotations.

For starters, I have a problem with the term “Shabby Chic.” Sure, Rachel Ashwell made a fortune with the brand and I’m happy for her.

I have to admit that for about 3 years back in the late 80’s early 90’s I liked it.

But then, those humongous chair and a halves and the rest lost its appeal.

And then… suddenly there they were…

dum, dum dum

 

Ready-made slipcovers.

 

popular-shabby-chic-sofa-and-request-a-custom-order-and-have-something-made-just-for-you-13

Who remembers that movie with Raquel Welch in the mid-60’s Fantastic Voyage when the white corpuscle swallows up the submarine the scientists are in?   haha!

Sure. I get it. You have kids and pets, teens who track mud in and a clumsy beer drinking, football watching husband.

You NEED a shmata to throw over the sofa until company arrives.

not-at-all-chic-and-definitely-shabby-slipcover

Fine by me. I don’t judge.

 

unique-shabby-chic-sofa-and-custom-shabby-sofa-chic-chenille-bedspread-by-vintagechicfurniture-1

Unless you do this… lol (And seriously, if you love this look, then please just ignore my snide remark.)

 

But that’s not what I’m talking about when I’m talking about slipcovers.

 

robin-bruce-one-kings-lane-slip-covered-sofa

This chic, not shabby slipcover is what I’m talking about

 

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And this classic by Katrin Cargill

And the rest of these beautiful slipcovers, too

victoria-hagan-nantucket-living-room-with-custom-slipcovers

Victorian Hagan via Architectural Digest

 

victoria-hagan-slipcovered-sofa

I’ve been looking for this for quite a while! This is Victoria’s old home in Nantucket from around 1999. Oh, how I would stare for hours. I painted my living room this color. It’s Ancestral from Pratt and Lambert which is creamier than it looks here. And I used this gauze fabric from Henry Calvin for my old home and for a number of clients as well.

 

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Sam Allen

Maybe you’ve seen this wonderful dining room on Pinterest.

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Furlow Gatewood – photo- Rodney Collins

Veere Grenney in Veranda - London apartment bedroom with chair with cool boxpleated slipcover on the chair

Veere Grenney via Veranda

A classic English bedroom. Nobody does slipcovers, like the British!

jk-place-capri-michele-bonan slipcover on the wingchairJK Place Capri

Laurel’s favorite hotel and possibly because all of the furniture is covered in white slipcovers!

Windsor Smith black kitchen white slipcover chair

Windsor Smith

Windsor, is one of my favorite interior designers. I love the chances she takes in her designs.

one-kings-lane_windsor-smith__slipcoverzebra-benches__

Windsor Smith

I’m trying to figure out if I think these Siamese twins… errr… I mean conjoined twins are cool or not. I do love her signature detailing on the hem, but think I prefer Mark D. Sikes’ version (below) with a table in between the two sofas. (not to mention, getting that baby in through the door!)

mark-sikes-wonderful-library-with-blue-slipcovered-sofas

Via Mark D Sikes book, Beautiful

tulipe-chair-les-indiennes-slipcover-dining-side-chair

What better way to update some tired old upholstery with this charming slipcover from Les Indiennes (Tulipe Fabric)

the-nester-slipcover-with-button-closures-on-a-dining-chair

The Nester

Love the button detail on the back of this houndstooth checked fabric slipcover.

 

Where Can I Get Custom Slipcovers Made?

 

Anyone who can do custom upholstery can also make a custom slipcover. I have found that the price for labor for a slipcover is about half of that of the upholstery and sometimes even less.

But… You might need a couple more yards of fabric, depending on the style. Some of the slipcover does get tucked into the creases under the cushions. Therefore, when consulting yardage amounts, please be sure that these are estimates for slipcovers, not standard upholstery.

The very best site I found with tons and I mean tons of advice, images and great sources for inexpensive fabrics is The Slipcover Maker

 

In fact, I could’ve just put a link to her site and called it a day. haha.

drexel-chair-before-after-slipcover

How fresh is this classic ticking stripe on some dated fuddee duddee upholstery. You must check out her site. She’s located in the Kalamazoo, MI area, so if you live around there, you are in luck! However, if you have an existing slipcover that’s kaput, she can copy it for you.

light-weight-classic-ticking-stripes-via-the-slipcover-maker

Beautiful ticking stripes sourced on The Slipcovermaker site.

 

What Other Fabrics Are Good For Custom Slipcovers?

 

Another terrific source on the Slipcover Maker site is called Big Duck Canvas They carry a 10 oz. Cotton Duck. It’s a good weight fabric that’s perfect for slipcovers and it’s really cheap.

Of course, you can use linen as well as lighter-weight cottons.

You can use velvet, but I recommend using a poly velvet.

Any fabric that drapes well is good for slipcovers. However, I would avoid silk unless it’s not going to be sat on a lot. And please keep it out of the sun.

 

Karen at the Slipcover Maker also provides a shrinking service. If you are using cotton, I strongly advise pre-shrinking your fabric. You can also do it yourself, but I’d spend the $ and have her do it.

 

Here is Karen’s price list for her services.

 

Here are two other sources for custom slipcovers.

 

slipcovers-by-shelley-utah-buffalo-red-and-white-check-on-a-dining-chair

If you live in or around Eagle Mountain, Utah, please check out Slipcovers by Shelley.

How fabulous is this red and white Buffalo check on this dining chair.

 

custom-slipcovers-by-shelley-over-old-uphostery-chairs-dining-room

Shelley has a terrific website also filled with advice and tutorials.

(and no, I’m not an affiliate)

pink-and-polka-dot-white-slip-cover

If you live in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC area, please check out Kristi, the “slipcover girl” whose website is called Pink And Polka Dot.

 

For The Adventurous and Talented who wish to turn their tired upholstery into a stylish new piece with slipcovers

 

miss-mustard-seed-tutorial-ottoman-slipcover

Miss Mustard Seed who I’m sure a lot of you know already has a fabulous

video tutorial about how to make custom slipcovers.

 

living-in-the-rain-garden-making-henriksdal-parson-slipcoversLiving In the Rain Garden

This clever woman covered an ugly brown leather Henriksdal chair from Ikea with a custom slipcover she made and get this. The fabric is a shower curtain from Target!

 

slipcover on a tired dining chair

Home Sweet Homemade

Diane, the author of Home Sweet Homemade, took a dining chair with some tired upholstery and made this cool corset-inspired slip-cover and put the chair in the guest bedroom. There’s a tutorial in the link.

one-kings-lane-eloise-slipcover-headboard-white

This slipcovered headboard is a great idea and affordable. You can get it here.

 

one-kings-lane-blue-slipcover-sofa-with-white-piping upholstery

Beautiful dark blue slipcover with white piping.

 

You can also find out a lot about slipcovers all throughout Cote De Texas. Joni Webb adores them!

 

While there is no separate category for slipcovers, here are some of my favorite sources for slipcovered upholstery that are in Laurel’s Rolodex.

 

The companies do not make custom slipcovers but do make them for their pieces.

Lee Industries
The Best Slip Cover Company
Taylor Scott Collection

Anyone out there who makes their own slipcovers? I know that some of you do and I’m sure that I’ve left some things out. Please feel free to share in the comments.

xo,

Laurel-e1443573876689

 

 

 

*Please note that a few of these links are affiliate links which means if you click on them, I’ll make a nickel. I’m not joking.  A nickel. Any affiliate links are for brands that I use and/or recommend.

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  • Sara Trosen - December 19, 2016 - 11:06 PM

    I have used an online resource called Needle and Shears. I was very pleased with the custom slipcover they made for me!
    You send them photos of your pieces, they send back detailed sketches and what dimensions they need. They were made perfectly! Use at your own risk because I see they have many unhappy customers as well 😳ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - December 19, 2016 - 11:25 PM

      Hi Sara,

      Thanks for that. I read some of those reviews. ouch! But I’m glad that you had a good experience. ReplyCancel

  • Marsha Stopa - October 5, 2016 - 11:25 PM

    Loved this post Laurel!

    My former marriage loveseat is 35 years old and is on its second set of slipcovers and second set of cushions. The first set was seageeen and white striped polished cotton that required an interlining to be sturdy enough. The second set is a wide white seersucker. I make them fitted with welting. No one knows they are not upholstery.

    Replacing the cushions with high-quality upholstery grade foam or your choice of cushion makes the piece feel like new.

    As others have said, it’s a slow and tedious process and can be challenging to make them fit well. An old club chair I did two years ago frustrated me for weeks with the curves and I had to cut the back twice to get it right.

    Third set, to be made this winter, will likely be made from canvas painter’s drop cloths from Lowe’s. Don’t judge please. 🙂 I have cats with claws and they are brutal on the furniture. Blame Miss Mustard Seed. The bedroom draperies from the dropcloths turned out quite stylish with attractive hardware and proper ironing and training the folds.

    This way I might be able to afford those super stylish pillows and inserts that make the room!

    Thanks for the Big Duck Canvas site and the other resources!

    MarshaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 6, 2016 - 12:30 AM

      Hi Marsha,

      No judging whatsoever! I love the idea of using canvas drop cloth for slipcovers. I mean it’s really the same as cotton duck only perhaps a little heavier weight. And if it keeps those sharp claws from penetrating, it’s even better! But I’m impressed that you can sew too!ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - October 2, 2016 - 4:16 AM

    oh my, what a wonderful post! I almost missed it:( Didn’t see notification in my email. well, I see it now! so many great resources. Saving it all. I never thought of it before, but..

    Do you think it’s really stupid to try and slipcover two leather armchairs in poly velvet..just because I want two new velvet chairs?:) They’re in good condition. I just dream about other fabric and colors..patterns even. Or should I bite the bullet so to say, and just wait until I can afford new ones?

    also..why poly velvet is better? is it usually better for upholstery? or just for slipcovers?
    (did try to google to understand the difference between different velvets, but can’t say a significant progress was made))ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 2, 2016 - 10:47 AM

      Hi Jenny,

      Poly velvet is better because you can throw it in the washing machine and it will not shrink. After-all, it’s essentially plastic.

      When cotton velvet gets wet, life is over. It will look like something the dog dragged in from the street.

      I can’t make your decision for you or even promise that you’ll love the result. How about some beautiful velvet pillows?ReplyCancel

      • Jenny - October 2, 2016 - 12:37 PM

        I do have several beautiful velvet pillows:) They probably are the ones that got me so spoiled, lol

        Thank you so much, Laurel!
        For the great answer, for the wonderful post, for the blog I truly love..and just so.ReplyCancel

  • MaryJane - October 1, 2016 - 9:21 PM

    Years ago I made my first slipcover using a book called Slipcovers & Bedspreads, a paperback published by Sunset Books. I checked an it’s available on Amazon Books. It covers everything from fabric selection and yardage needed, to consideration on running your fabric lengthwise or horizontally. I have good sewing skills, but I think that even a novice would have good results if they took their time. My sofa was white and I was moving in with a gal who had a dog. At that time slipcovers were new to most my friends and they just couldn’t believe how good it looked when completed. Hope this book can help someone out there in blog land. I love your blog Laurel, thanks for all the time you put into it.ReplyCancel

  • Marisa Hawk - October 1, 2016 - 12:23 PM

    Hi again – awesome post, as usual. We had Lee remake a slipcover for us for our wonderful sofa from them – but I didn’t get Crypton or Sunbrella and it’s all faded now. Another thing that is happening is the cushions on the back are slouchy, nice for a basement den, not my living room. Is there anything to be said about re-invigorating the cushions themselves?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 2, 2016 - 12:13 AM

      Hi Marisa,

      Sometimes people sit on the back cushions and that will definitely deform them. I don’t know what your filling is. I usually like a blend-down blend which is down and feathers and a polyfiber. I find that it gives a little more body, but the cushions still require some occasional fluffing.ReplyCancel

  • Susie - October 1, 2016 - 8:34 AM

    Hi Laurel,

    My dog has scratched up my leather sofa from pretending to dig on it. It has no removable cushions. Can I slipcover this puppy? The sofa of course! 😉ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - October 1, 2016 - 11:37 AM

      Hi Susie,

      A slipcover can go over a sofa that doesn’t have any cushions in the same way it goes over a dining chair. I would leave it to a professional. It will require a zipper or some other kind of closing system to get it on and off– much like a dress. ReplyCancel

  • Susan Davis - September 30, 2016 - 11:38 PM

    Dear Laurel,

    I love your very thorough posts!

    Slipcovers by Shelly is acually in my back yard and a dear friend is looking for someone to slipcover a chair in Painter’s cloth!

    Thank you thank you thank you for this information.

    Now to my tangent! I just transposed all the Benjamin Moore numbers to my Farrow & Ball Paint chart. But I read somewhere, your site possibly, that F&B added new paint colors this year, 2016. Have you perchance matched the new colors by F&B to BM colors and posted them or are you not doing that anymore?

    Thanks for all the GREAT information, not yelling, just emphatically happy that you are here!

    Sincerely,
    Susan DavisReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - September 30, 2016 - 10:58 PM

    I used to have some slip covers over chairs in my family room when my kids were little and they were so great. They were a washable linen and I could just have them dry cleaned once a year. It was so great to know that I could whip them off and clean them instead of living with stains. I was cracking up at the Shabby Chic sofas! Thanks for the laugh and good info!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 30, 2016 - 11:18 PM

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks for stopping by! Glad you’re laughing, too.ReplyCancel

  • Suzi - September 30, 2016 - 12:36 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I love to sew and have made 3 slipcovers over the last few years. My first attempt was using velvet (I know, I was crazy) for a camel-back sofa with three cushions. My daughter now has it. Then I made one for my Ethan Allen couch that had chintz that was ripping. I used 3 different coordinating fabrics – a solid red twill, Ralph Lauren flower print and a small check. I also used these fabrics to make a slipcover for a wing-back chair. All the slipcovers are form fitting and I covered the cushions separately. Sewing gives me the option of doing all the special little things that would otherwise cost $$$$$. I don’t always like the fabric options given in furniture stores, so I search many fabric stores for the perfect fabric. If you would like to see pictures, I would gladly send them to you! Thanks for the blog, I see some details that I like!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 30, 2016 - 11:12 PM

      Hi Suzi,

      That sounds really pretty. I admire people who can sew.ReplyCancel

  • mrsben - September 29, 2016 - 4:02 PM

    I second Libby’s comment. This is a very informative post and you are a gem and very generous. That said; I have dabbled in both upholstery and slip covering but find the latter much more challenging as generally more work is involved to have a product whose end result looks professional and performs well. i.e.: Seams should be finished off. Pleats or gathering are even. It should fit like a glove but allow easy maintenance. ETC. On that note if you are inexperienced and tackling either method yourself; consider taking at least your sofa cushions to a reputable upholsterer if no one in your area does slip covering as it will make a huge difference in appearance and function.
    -Brenda-ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - September 29, 2016 - 11:42 AM

    For those of us on low low budget there is also the Ikea option – and a company that makes slipcovers for the furniture. It totally changes the look of the item when a Bemz cover is used instead of the typical Ikea selection.
    https://bemz.com/ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:40 PM

      Holy crap! That’s amazing Lynn! That needs to go in the new update for the rolodex!ReplyCancel

  • Susan Chatelain - September 29, 2016 - 11:26 AM

    This blog was just what I have needed for a long time. I have been searching for someone to do slipcovers. I live north of the Dallas, TX area. You would think it would be an easy search here, but it isn’t. I love the look of tailored slipcovers, but cannot bring myself to use any of the pre-made variety. As usual, your blog was informative, useful, and , yes, entertaining. Thanks again.ReplyCancel

    • Gigi Gardener - December 25, 2016 - 2:44 AM

      If you can get your furniture to Houston, I know of a marvellous seamstress for custom fitted slipcovers.ReplyCancel

    • Frances Pusch - September 29, 2016 - 1:31 PM

      Try slipcovernetwork.org for a list by state of slipcover makers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:36 PM

      Hi Susan,

      It’s not that easy because a lot of the really good, reasonably priced people who do this, don’t advertise; it’s only by word of mouth. Even with the internet, not everyone uses it to promote their businesses; not even on facebook.

      Sometimes there are community groups that share info like that. I know there was one in my old neighborhood. ReplyCancel

      • Adam - September 30, 2016 - 11:15 AM

        Hi Laurel, do you know of anyone in Westchester who does them?ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - September 30, 2016 - 12:10 PM

          Hi Adam,

          I’m sorry but I don’t. Perhaps try doing a google search.ReplyCancel

  • Libby - September 29, 2016 - 11:15 AM

    Great info! Laurel you are a gem – so generous!
    There is a story today in The Telegraph (UK newspaper) about a decorator who took a photo of his client’s apartment. He always does this so he knows where to replace items, etc. The client flew into a rage, had his hands and feet bound, he was ordered to kiss the feet of the client, had his head bashed and the client told her bodyguard to kill him – not just maim him. After four hours he was freed. Of course, she refused to pay his bill for the work he had done. So, not a spurned lover or role-playing gone wrong situation -don’t ALL decorators encounter THAT (smirk) problem once in awhile? The client thought….. he might sell the photo. Or put it in his blog?
    I think they buried the lede here. They went for a sex angle instead of the imprisonment/threatened with death angle.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/29/saudi-princess-ordered-paris-interior-decorator-to-kiss-her-feet/ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:33 PM

      Hi Libby,

      It’s indeed a crazy world with lots of bonafide freaks masquerading as royalty and presidential candidates. oops. not supposed to say that. lol

      I have never had anything remotely close to that. I did have one pathological narcissist (and also a NYC corporate litigator) who made my life a living hell for several months. But other than that, I can count on one hand the number of people I was glad to see the last of them. And it’s been over a decade since that last happened.

      The other 98% have been absolutely delightful. Some, incredibly so!ReplyCancel

      • Libby - September 29, 2016 - 1:11 PM

        Just a few days ago I re-visited a post you linked to in your last blog post….something about photographs…and a client….I am so glad you were NOT tied up and pistol-whipped. Now, let’s guess who is the decorator in Paris….ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 10:28 PM

          Oh my, I’m lost now. Oh wait. The kitchen. I remember. Yeah… well, that’s how it goes sometimes.ReplyCancel

  • Nancy Robertson - September 29, 2016 - 10:01 AM

    Another fabulous post, Laurel! LOL — I don’t know how “adventurous” I am, but I have sewn fitted and tailored slipcovers for the armchairs, sofas, headboards and cornice boards in my house. I think sewing your own slipcovers is definitely worth the time and effort for anyone with intermediate level sewing skills.

    Here are my recommendations: Start with a small armchair, and work your way up to sofas. Furniture with straight lines and 90 degree angles are easier to fit than those with many curves or angles. Use a washable, lightweight but durable, very supple, solid color fabric with no backing. I have found some types of faux suede to be ideal, and that’s the only fabric I use for slipcovers for armchairs and sofas. Make sure your sewing machine is up to the task. You do not need an industrial machine, but your machine must have good piercing power — I use a Viking Designer 1.

    I highly recommend Pam Damour’s Super Slipcovers #106 DVD which is sold on her website for $25. Pam has owned a professional workroom in upstate NY for over 20 years and is a well respected sewing educator. Her professional quality video taught me everything I needed to know to get very good results.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:26 PM

      Wow! Thank you so much for all of that great advice Nancy. I’m sure that other readers will find it very helpful too!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy Winter - September 29, 2016 - 10:01 AM

    Dear Laurel, This post couldn’t come at a more opportune time. I have 6 chairs going to the upholsterer; some For slip covers, some for reupholstering. I am desperately trying to save one of my favorite upholstered chairs that has embroidered foxes on it that my children ruined over the years. The arms have greasy grime? from eating in the chair. Can you recommend an upholstery cleaner that could possibly penetrate these types of stains? I have tried all the products available on the shelves for cars, carpets to no avail. The slipcovers you featured are gorgeous so I do have some hope if I can’t salvage the chair. Thank you for your insight and help!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:25 PM

      Hi Kathy,

      It sounds like the stains are permanent, but I’m not a professional cleaner, so I don’t know. I do recommend Afta which is a solvent cleaner (great on grease, but it’s like lighter fluid) and also Mother’s Little Helper is good stuff.ReplyCancel

      • mrsben - September 29, 2016 - 3:27 PM

        Another cleaner Kathy may wish to try is; Goddards Dry Cleaner Solvent though I highly recommend she try it first on an non conspicuous place, unlike myself who ruined a silk drapery panel that was water-marked. (Yep, you guessed it; I didn’t test it and my stupid since it ate a hole right through the fabric!) I believe Amazon.com carries it. Also, two other alternatives for greasy stains is dish washing soap and a solution of T.S.P. mixed with water but always, TEST – TEST – TEST. -Brenda-ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 10:30 PM

          Great advice Brenda! I wonder if Goddards is like Afta. ReplyCancel

  • Ann zager - September 29, 2016 - 9:50 AM

    Good morning laurel,
    Your blog is wonderful. I have a camel back sofa which I looked into having reupholstered but I almost fainted when
    I found out then cost. $3000. I love it but not that much
    Slip covers would be a great idea since the price was way beyond my budget
    I live in Newton Massachusetts and wonder if you have any connections here.
    I look forward to your weekly informational segments.
    Thank you for all your beautiful ideas.

    Ann ZagerReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:23 PM

      Hi Ann,

      Newton is Boston, right? There should be many sources there. Perhaps try doing a google search. I don’t know of any workrooms there.
      3k bucks? Whoa! I hope that included the fabric. That’s quite a lot for reupholstery.

      I do love slips on camelback sofas.ReplyCancel

  • PigtownDesign - September 29, 2016 - 9:42 AM

    A few years ago, I realized that I had to recover a sofa that my dog slept on all day, but I’d just bought a house, so was low on cash.

    I had taught myself to sew a year earlier, so watched a ton of tutorial videos, figured out that the key to doing the slip cover was cutting and sewing inside-out and nipping and tucking.

    It took about 25 hours, with lots of ripping out, and a few mistakes, but I did it! http://pigtown-design.blogspot.com/2011/04/finished.htmlReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:20 PM

      Hi Meg,

      Wow! I’m impressed! It looks very professional. Thanks for sharing that.ReplyCancel

  • The Slipcover Maker - September 29, 2016 - 9:06 AM

    Laurel, hello! What a fun and inspirational post. Loved all of the magazine photos of chic slipcovers…can’t get enough! Thanks so much for mentioning my slipcover work and linking.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:18 PM

      Hi Karen,

      Glad you liked it! Did your page views go up dramatically yesterday? That was me. lol Wonderful website you have and it popped right up in my search. Good to know, huh? Thanks so much for stopping by!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Bates - September 29, 2016 - 9:01 AM

    I had slipcovers back when they were not as secure,they’d move around too much and had to be re-tucked often.

    Currently, I have a TCS sofa where the covered back looks fine but the chenille has glazed over. I could slipcover it, but I will be reupholstering it, as it’s very low to the ground. and of course I have better pricing on fabrics and a to the trade only upholsterer – who really should charge more than he does.

    The other thing is that one cannot slipcover and call it a day. Depending on the cushion type, sitting on it every day for 8 or more years, you’ll need to have them refilled – especially if one of you is, shall I say Hefty, like my hubby. He likes to sit next to me…but I’m thinking of giving him his own chair now….GASP!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:16 PM

      Hi Heather,

      I can relate. Back in the mid-70s when I was still in my teens, I lived with my much older sister in Cali. (Palo Alto when it was very affordable) We had the top floor of a Bungalow. Cool apartment but the walls were painted pinky, barf beige and the sofa matched.

      I got a couple of big navy and white floral sheets and made a makeshift slipcover, but it was always coming undone. Still, it was far better than the barf beige!ReplyCancel

  • Nancy Molstad - September 29, 2016 - 8:38 AM

    Thank you for sharing the most-needed technical decorating advice ever (along with your pithy comments)!

    My husband and I preserved our sofa and loveseat for twenty-five years with throw covers. Now that we have a new sofa and loveseat, we’re protecting them with the same throw covers. Why? Because there are no properly large throw covers in a railroaded fabric that don’t look like history threw up on them.

    Now that I’ve finished whimpering, does your Rolodex contains sources for throw covers?

    A thousand thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:13 PM

      Hi Nancy,

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment. There may be sources in the rolodex for throw covers, but not listed specifically. They are at places like Target. Maybe do a google search for them. ReplyCancel

  • Betty - September 29, 2016 - 7:18 AM

    Slipcovers … I remember years ago there was an interview with Barbara Streisand in her guest house that the furniture “was covered with various throws” when I saw that I thought, if I was to do that people would wonder what stains am I covering up. With Barbara it was a decor. Ha Ha

    When I wanted to get another slipcover for my favorite big, comfy chair from Crate & Barrel where I bought it. Many years later and I mean MANY years I asked at the store if they would have that style any more. Of course not, what was I thinking? They did impress me that what I bought was still on file – who would have thunk? Anyway, I tried other places and the cost would have been as much as buying a new chair, sometimes more. I never did get another cover, but the chair looks good and is more comfortable than ever and doesn’t look bad (my opinion). Your ruffley (sp ?) examples made me laugh so hard I almost spit my coffee out. I especially like the one with the pink cat and is that chenille? Remember those bedspreads with the huge peacocks in the center out of chenille?

    I love the button details and that green shade on the lamp in the Home Sweet Homemade picture. There is something about striped covers that, for me, bring a quiet sophistication to a piece even if it is your pet’s favorite chair. Maybe some day I’ll try again to find someone who can recreate the existing cover. So for now this chair may fit in with “shabby” chic LOL.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:10 PM

      Hi Betty,

      A few of those long-distance links in the post sound very affordable. Maybe one of them can copy your slipcover for less than you were quoted?ReplyCancel

  • Gayle Hamilton - September 29, 2016 - 7:02 AM

    As a child I Remember having chintz quilted clubs chairs in the LR. My mother had them slip covered in a cream cotton or linen of a medium weight with a slub running thru the weave. I never really understood what the on and off schedule was, but in retrospect, think they were slipped on in summers…

    Those chairs weighed well over 100 lbs and made it ith me thru several homes, including a Maine Coast vacation home. There, they had been upholstered in a small blue and white Chinese cloud pattern. Sold them before I left and still wish I had held onto them…they were classics. Sold the slip covers with th chairs and the woman who bought them was so thrilled about the covers!

    Wonderful memories of my childhood home and helping zip on the covers!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:08 PM

      Hi Gayle,

      What a beautiful memory! Thanks for sharing. I love stories like that!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - September 29, 2016 - 3:37 AM

    I love it when someone can make me laugh out loud in the morning! ” You don’t need drugs,for a psychedelic experience.” Still laughing.
    You are a natural born writer. And distributor of extremely useful information.
    Thank you thank you thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 11:51 AM

      Hi Ann,

      That is so sweet. I’ve always had a vivid imagination. It’s a blessing, for sure!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth - September 29, 2016 - 3:04 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    My mom did the opposite in 1962 she bought a decadent WHITE sectional and had clear plastic slipcovers made…
    I enjoy your blog!ReplyCancel

  • Kathy - September 29, 2016 - 1:46 AM

    I love all slip covers. Thanks for all the great info.
    Is there a way to attach a back cushion ? Or do they look ok?
    What do you think?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 11:48 AM

      Hi Kathy,

      I’m not a fan of attached back cushions. And yes, they look fine, especially if there’s a nice fill. I generally like a blend of dacron, down and feathers, so they are not too soft. It depends also on how thick the back cushions are.ReplyCancel

      • Frances Pusch - September 29, 2016 - 2:46 PM

        Typically for a chair or sofa with attached cushion(s), the slipcover is made to go over the attached cushion and be part of the body of the slipcover. This usually looks just fine, though it might need a little extra tucking over time. I agree with Laurel and always prefer the separate cushions. [I could post a photo not on a web site if you tell me how…]ReplyCancel

  • Christine V - September 29, 2016 - 1:23 AM

    Great post Laurel. I have two chairs in my bedroom that used to be in the living room of our previous home. I adore these chairs; I like their size and shape and they are cozy to sit in and chat or with a footstool to relax and watch tv. Unfortunately, their color doesn’t work well with the new house decor. I contacted a reputable shop that does upholstery. I found two chenille fabrics I really liked that worked – and were very different. I wanted to reupholster and get a set of slip covers to have the best of both worlds, I thought. It was $1600 for the reupholstery and $1500 for the slip covers. I was surprised!! Needless to say, I’m just getting them reupholstered for now.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 11:47 AM

      Hi Christine,

      I actually haven’t done a slip cover in a while but here in New York, say 15 years ago, it was about 450 for a chair. So, I imagine that it is probably about 600-700 now. That’s not including the fabric. I’m not saying that it should be a lot less than upholstery. It’s more of a what-the-market-will-bear situation, as I see it.ReplyCancel

  • Gail Caryn - September 29, 2016 - 1:19 AM

    Dear Laurel,
    I am new to your blog and beyond grateful that you expend so much energy to share your expert insights, inspiration, and advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    My husband and I are doing a DIY down to the studs reno of a 1911 house in Victoria Canada on a pauper’s budget. In other words EVERYTHING you write is useful to me!
    I first signed up to get your paint colour guide but never did get it and haven’t had any luck finding it on your site. I’d happily pay for it (I think you should charge) if it were available. Can you post a link where I might download or purchase it?
    Gratefully yours,
    GailReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 11:42 AM

      Hi Gail,

      I just sent you the free guide. I apologize that you didn’t get it. Apparently, there’s some sort of bug which no one seems to be able to fix.ReplyCancel

  • Therese - September 29, 2016 - 1:14 AM

    I could have written the “dear Laurel” letter that started this post. I was living with 11 year old chairs with matching ottomans that were SUPER comfy and well made but I was so over the pattern on them. The old pattern was a dark paisley with really warm earth tones and it just didn’t match the lighter vibe I was trying to achieve for my young kids. I inquired about reupholstery and the first quote I got was well over $1000 per chair. I found a wonderful little company in Oak Park, IL called Slipcovers Plus, which made me custom covers for a fraction of that per chair, including fabric. now I’m looking to have covers made for my dining chairs just to achieve a new/fun look. What a transformation!!

    One tip I learned….because slipcovers are meant to be washed, I think my vendor assumed I didn’t want stain resistant fabric. I didn’t realize that the cotton I picked (which was light in color) would pick up quite so much dirt so easily. If I had to do over again, I would have made sure they were either a stain-resistant fabric or at least scotch-guarded because I just don’t have the time or patience to be washing them every week.

    love your blog by the way! I read it religiously but this is my first post.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 11:31 AM

      Hi Therese,

      Since you’re a commenting newbie, I’ll be gentle. lol

      The best fabrics for stain resistance are then new Crypton. Please see this cute post about it. And of course Sunbrella type fabrics which have come a long way. You can even get a sunbrella velvet!

      In the meantime, I think that you can still get a can of scotch guard. Just be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying. It does wear off over time, but probably will help some.ReplyCancel

      • mrsben - September 29, 2016 - 4:28 PM

        Laurel, a lot of automotive shops (who specialize in custom accessories, paints etc.) carry ‘commercial grade’ Scotch-guard. Also, at one time Home Depot carried Scotch Gard Protector (for upholstery, washable & dry cleanable fabrics) and could be found in their carpeting area. -Brenda-
        P.S.: Thomspon’s Water Seal (Fabric Seal) is another good product. Not sure that they carry it in the U.S. though.ReplyCancel

  • TKraft Art & Interiors - September 29, 2016 - 1:03 AM

    Oh sweet Laurel, my nose has been glued to the grind stone these past three months but I can’t express how much I love reading this blog tonight about reality. Amazes me that people also think that if they replace just the doors on their kitchen or bathroom cabinets they’ll save a zillion dollars when in reality they save roughly a third so it’s well worth the two thirds already spent they might as will buy new, crazy isn’t it. But, yes I believe if we just change up the peripheral, the overall look will drastically change for the better. Bring in a little new paint, that can work wonders for twenty years or till the next trend. And bring on the pillows…ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 11:27 AM

      Hi Teresa,

      They save a third on the cabinet, but then there’s installation and all the mess, right? But yes, sometimes it’s better to just start over and not really that much more expensive. Great to see you again!ReplyCancel

  • Slipcovers by shelley - September 28, 2016 - 11:38 PM

    Thanks so much for the feature! One of my clients texted me the link. Hilarious beginning! I couldn’t agree more!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 29, 2016 - 12:31 AM

      Hi Shelley,

      Nice to E-meet you! Beautiful website you have. I enjoyed looking at your lovely creations!ReplyCancel

  • Uncurly.com DIY Brazilian Keratin Smoothout - September 28, 2016 - 11:20 PM

    I totally needed to read this. TWENTY-FIVE years ago I had a pair of really sharp slipcovers made for some wing chairs. Black and white striped fabric, floor-length skirt, kick pleat in the back, cording. The upholster fought me all the way on the details. “We’ve never done a long skirt before. Why the pleat in the back?” But when they were complete, they were so gorgeous that he begged me to let him put them in his brochure. Digression. Anyway, they’ve been through 2.5 decades of kids, dogs, and grime, and while the fabric still looks good, they have some tears and need to be redone. Why didn’t I think of this? Of course they can be recut from the old pieces and it’s bound to cost a lot less than making new ones. Thanks for putting in the effort to make a really good blog. It IS a lot of effort, too. Regards, ElizabethReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 11:28 PM

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Glad I mentioned that about being able to copy old slipcovers. And thank you. Yes, it’s a lot of effort to produce the blog but it’s what I do now and I really enjoy it. Thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Taryl - September 28, 2016 - 10:36 PM

    I laughed so hard at the first part of this post. Those are truly awful examples and I was ROLLING with laughter.

    As the owner of approximately a gazillion (okay, just six) kids I really hear the budget and stain issues. Thank you for the fantastic slip cover links! It gives me hope I can revive some of the worst furtniture I’m currently living with without mortgaging something or someone to afford it. It also seems like a fantastic way to freshen up a color scheme with comparably little risk, or am I way off base in thinking that? It seems like it would make playing with a room’s feel on a budget much easier.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 11:08 PM

      Hi Taryl,

      Glad you’re laughing.

      And six IS a gazillion kids. I had two and they nearly killed me! I’m not joking either.

      And no, you’re not off-base at all in your thinking. I love the look which I guess I didn’t say but it’s implied. I had a slipcovered sofa and the slipcover held up for years. ReplyCancel

  • Naomi - September 28, 2016 - 10:35 PM

    Thanks for this interesting post. Once upon a time slip covers were the norm. My parents had no money but my mother had a set of custom, well-tailored slip covers she would use in the spring and summer which would be removed after Labor Day. Ditto all her friends. Plus I remember those Macy’s tv commercials advertising home visits for slipcover fabric choices and installations.

    Clearly a bygone era.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 11:05 PM

      Hi Naomi,

      Yes, bygone in this country, anyway. And also maybe more popular in certain regions? I grew up in southern Indiana and I don’t remember anyone having anything slipcovered. But that was the 60’s.ReplyCancel

  • Dolores - September 28, 2016 - 10:17 PM

    Slipcovers are wonderful! I prefer slipcovered sofas to plain upholstered sofas- and will confess that I have five slipcovered sofas/loveseats( and one slipcovered chaise- the two loveseats I had done in velvet, and those velvet slipcovers are unbeatable for wear and keeping good form.
    The velvets are actually upholstery weight fabric, a cotton and a mix of a synthetic, I assume,( check out Fabric Guru.com for great deals) and they fit the sofas like a glove. Coincidentally,I have the Rachel Ashwell ‘Bean’ loveseat which came with a thin, stretchy velvet slip that didn’t work in my house, and now it is perfect done in a cognac Robert Allen velvet fabric. You might remember it from the upstairs hall photo?
    My prettiest slipcover is hands down- the Lee Industries English sofa which has tiny little tailored ruffles as an edging on the bottom of the hem.
    I do sew my own pillows, but I won’t even attempt to sew a slip for a sofa- that I leave to my wonderful seamstress- and I think that unless you have an industrial machine( like Ms. Mustard Seed) sewing over those doubled heavy seams could just drive you crazy bonkers! I know my limits. 🙂
    I had great luck sewing a slipcover for my king upholstered headboard as it’s basically just like sewing a tight fitting pillow case..anyone who can sew a straight seam could do it.
    There’s one more sofa that needs to be slipcovered- but it’s a Chesterfield,( not leather) with button tufting, and I’m afraid that because of the tufting, that a slip cover won’t fit well..but I also don’t want to pay $1200( plus fabric) to have it re-upholstered.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 11:03 PM

      Hi Dolores,

      I was curious about the button tufting and I found someone who had made a tufted slipcover!

      http://www.lesliefehling.com/2010/09/tufted-slipcovers.html

      All of the ruffles are not my taste, but the way she recreated the tufting is pretty cool.

      And she’s right. Matelasse is a terrific material for a slipcover. I used one in the very, very first job I had when I began my business in 1996. It was beautiful!ReplyCancel

  • Ennis - September 28, 2016 - 9:36 PM

    Wow! Another great post. Your posts are always a delight to read. Thank you for your generosity of information. I’ve loved my tailored slipcovers and found:
    1. always put them back on directly out of the washer, when they are wet
    2. pre-shrunk cotton can still shrink, while linen is more predictable and stretchable.
    3. For the crispest look, ideally first recover your piece in a natural muslin.
    They last 5-6 yearsReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 10:56 PM

      Hi Ennis,

      Great advice. Yes, they can still shrink a little even if pre-shrunk.

      I guess that’s a washable linen. Otherwise if not, then I wouldn’t wash it. Or at least experiment with an arm cover or something first.ReplyCancel

  • Frances Pusch - September 28, 2016 - 9:35 PM

    Great job, Laurel, bring slipcovers front and center! In my business I make lots of custom slipcovers. I love ’em and they can transform an old piece of furniture like nothing else!

    For readers a couple things you might find– Many upholsterers do not make slipcovers, unless they have an employee or subcontractor who does. They are very different animals (upholstery and slipcovers, that is). Basically the first has fabric permanently attached, usually stapled, the other is constructed so it fits but can be removed. Additionally, slipcovers are not necessarily much less expensive than upholstery. As long as the furniture to be upholstered does not need structural work including new springs, it takes comparable time to upholster as to make a fine fitting slipcover. Cushion covers are made exactly the same for both. But that is no reason not to get slipcovers because as Laurel shows in her blog they are a look of their own! Charming, comfortable, cleanable, changeable (as in summer vs. winter slipcovers– what fun!). I am in coastal Maine if you want to talk slipcovers. Check my website francespusch.com Anything you see on the site that looks like it might be upholstery is slipcovered.

    [Laurel, I don’t know if you were asking for makers contract info, so delete the web address if not appropriate. Also, sorry for the snide remarks about your painting…(my post probably deserved to be deleted, as it was). I have many friends who are artists and the Chinese copy route made me bristle REALLY badly!]ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 10:52 PM

      Hi Frances,

      Thanks for all of that. I agree that slipcovers shouldn’t be that much less than upholstery, but usually, around here they are. I have worked with three upholsterers over the years and they all did slip covers. Maybe it’s this area or maybe I just found good people who did both.

      The prices of the online places were really good. It’s more expensive around here but it’s New York, so that explains that.

      I don’t mind if people put in their website that shows up if people click on the name. The only time, is when on occasion, someone is clearly commenting with a few words, not to say anything meaningful, but just to get their link on here. It doesn’t happen very often, fortunately.ReplyCancel

  • Gaye - September 28, 2016 - 9:32 PM

    I would just warn people to ask to see examples of slipcovers made by the person whom they intend to hire. Maybe more than one example. I could have purchased a new sofa for what I wasted this year on a slipcover for a sofa for my study/small sitting room. The fabric I chose had stripes and they ran the wrong direction and—well, fit does matter and is achieveable in slipcovers. Ended up having it upholstered, pricey fabric, seni-pricey upholsterer. Precision is so important either in creating patterms if you deal with out-of-town companies. My credentials come from the School of Hard Knocks. Glad to see these firms.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 10:45 PM

      Hi Gaye,

      Yes, that’s a good idea. I’d also ask how long they’ve been in business or even ask if they have references, if one has any doubts.ReplyCancel

  • Mary - September 28, 2016 - 8:58 PM

    Perfect timing with this post! Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 10:44 PM

      Yes, the holidays are coming up! Not that, that’s the reason. But sometimes people want a relatively quick fix. Although, I would get orders in quickly if needed before Christmas. Thanksgiving might be too late.ReplyCancel

  • Teri - September 28, 2016 - 8:42 PM

    So, I wish that reupholsterers did custom slipcovers. I had two of my chairs reupholstered (and she did a nice job as far as I can tell), but when I asked her to make me some slipcovers for other furniture, she said “I don’t do that, I don’t sew!” Now I am worried about how she got my chairs together. Staples and glue, I guess.

    Anyway, you would be horrified that I use a huge cotton canvas dropcloth thrown over my new sofa to keep the kids from actually touching my precious. And all my dining chairs are covered with towels. I need an intervention.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 10:42 PM

      Hi Teri,

      What does she mean she doesn’t sew? How does she make seat cushions, welting and pillows? Staple gun? haha. I think that she just doesn’t want to make them. But my upholsterer does make them and the other one I used to work with also made them.

      Haha! I’m not at all horrified. Form follows function! I raised two hellions so believe me, I understand completely!ReplyCancel

  • Celeste - September 28, 2016 - 8:39 PM

    I love slipcovers. I hate shabby chic with the fire of 1,000 suns, that button detailing is so adorable.

    We are likely getting our sofas redone this Christmas ( I have not decided the color but I am very happy with my Krypton chairs that my two year old just christened with purple marker) anyhow, we have two elderly cats and I was discussing what we could do to keep them from destroying the couches and I asked for a zippered end cover for the corners by the feet and if we do the edges with that rolled piping ( idk what that is called) we can disguise how they are attached and I can take them off after the cats destroy them and replace them( the covers, not the cats- they are irreplaceable). I always loved my grandmas slip covered furniture and peeking at the old patterns underneath,ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - September 28, 2016 - 10:38 PM

      Hi Celeste,

      Awww… miss my Peaches terribly. It’ll be 2 years this December since he passed. But I still talk to him just the same as I did when he was alive. Have to say though, that one of my chairs was on the verge of hemorrhaging through the arm. lol Then, I switched chairs and he started in on the other. Miss that little puddle of warm fur.

      The piping is usually called welting. ReplyCancel

  • Deb - September 28, 2016 - 8:23 PM

    Thank you for another great article! I had 2 armchairs in good condition that I decided to put in the same room post-renovation. The upholstery didn’t match and was stained. So I found some fabric at a fabric store and had a local slipcover seamstress make slipcovers. It cost much less than reupholstering or buying new chairs. Plus– and this is the biggest benefit– I can take the covers off and have them cleaned. I bought more of the same fabric and made draperies (those I could sew myself, saving even more money.) I love the new coordinated look (obviously I really like this fabric. :))ReplyCancel

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